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Symetra Tour next in line with 3 Michigan golf tournaments

With two LPGA Tour stops successfully concluded in Michigan, up next come three Symetra Tour events over the course of a month that highlight future LPGA stars.

This Friday through Sunday is the 54-hole Island Resort Championship in the Upper Peninsula. That’s followed by the Tullymore Classic near Canadian Lakes on July 1-3, then the Firekeepers Casino Hotel Championship in Battle Creek on July 22-24.

Michigan players who regularly compete on the Symetra Tour include Samantha Troyanovich (Grosse Pointe Shores), Caroline Powers (Michigan State), Lindsay Lammers (Detroit Mercy), Laura Kueny (Whitehall, MSU), Britney Hamilton (Kalamazoo), Liz Nagel (DeWitt) and Christine Meier (Rochester Hills).

“The Sweetgrass golf course is one of my favorites that we play,” Meier said in a released statement about the Island Resort site. “I enjoy the links style that it has, and it offers a lot of excitement with the island-green par-three and the reachable par-five 18th.

“Being a Michigan native as well as a Michigan State alum, it’s especially fantastic that the Symetra Tour and LPGA have embraced the amazing golf courses that we have here. It really helps grow the game in Michigan, and it's never a bad thing to have tons of Spartans out at our events.”

The Island Resort Championship purse is $125,000. The tournament also was the driving force a few years ago in creating the Potawatomi Cup, which goes to the points winner of a series of tournaments involving Symetra courses with Native American or Potawatomi tribal ties. It includes the Firekeepers event, as well.

Defending IRC champ Dani Holmqvist will not be back this year; she earned full LPGA Tour playing privileges in 2016. The same holds true for 2015 Tullymore champ Daniela Iacobelli, who was born in Detroit and lived in Michigan until she was a teenager. Her win and seasonlong seventh-place finish on the money list launched her to a full season on the LPGA Tour.

Two Michigan women are sponsor’s exemptions at Tullymore: high schooler Allyson Geer of Brighton and Gabrielle Shipley, a Delton native who won the Division II collegiate national championship for Grand Valley State this spring.

Geer is the reigning Michigan Women’s Amateur champ and has one more year of homeschooling before heading off to Michigan State, to which she verbally committed while in eighth grade. She earned All-America status at age 15 on the American Junior Golf Association circuit.

Shipley shot a GVSU-tournament-record six-under 282 to earn the national title, a one-stroke victory in Denver. She became the second Grand Valley player to win the national title and finished with a 73.8 scoring average, leading the team to a fourth-place tie in Division II. She plans to attempt LPGA qualifying school this fall.

The purse at both Tullymore and the Firekeepers Championship is $100,000. Firekeepers defending champ Madeleine Sheils does return.

Both the winner and the runner up at Firekeepers will get into the Evian Championship in France, the fifth and final major of the year. This is the first time in history that players will earn spots in an LPGA major tournament based on a single event finish at a Symetra tournament.

Sheils, a graduate of Nebraska, birdied two of her final four holes at Battle Creek Country Club for a 68 in her come-from-behind final round last year.

“Just the fact that the Symetra Tour alone has three events in Michigan is so impressive to me, that enough communities wanted to step up and support our tour,” Sheils said in an interview last month. “Plus, the LPGA has two tournaments here in Michigan. I think that speaks volumes about Michigan golf fans. At each of those events, we’ve seen a lot of spectators come out to watch, so I’ve been very impressed.

“I would have to say winning the Firekeepers Championship would be my No. 1 golfing memory. There’s just nothing like winning. It’s an incredible feeling, and that was such a special moment for me last year.”